5 Calif. volunteer fire depts. receive $730K grant

The departments will use the funds to purchase upgraded SCBA, which feature a display inside the face mask denoting the amount of remaining air in a tank

By Erin Tracy
The Modesto Bee

MODESTO, Calif. — Five volunteer fire departments will soon get upgraded breathing apparatus thanks to a $731,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

While the Assistance to Firefighters grant was awarded to the Hughson Fire Department, it also benefits Denair Fire and the Keyes, Westport and Burbank-Paradise fire districts.

Hughson fire Capt. Jeff Serpa, who wrote the grant, said he is in the process of ordering 96 air packs and 133 masks, which are individually fit to each firefighter.

The new breathing apparatus feature a display inside the mask that gives a reading of how much air is left in the tank. Also, if a firefighter is running out of air at the scene of a fire, another firefighter can use the “buddy breather” on his air pack to share his tank or bring in another tank and refill the low bottle through a new connector.

Serpa said Modesto and Ceres fire departments and the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District were the first to get the state-of-the-art breathing apparatus about four years ago and other departments have been following suit.

The five volunteer departments should be getting the new masks and air packs by the end of the year and start using them by early next year after training to use them.

At that point all but two fire departments in the county will have the apparatus, increasing fire safety at mutual aid scenes because the air packs will be interchangeable, Serpa said.

Copyright 2016 The Modesto Bee

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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